by Bill Biss
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday May 6, 2013

Vito Russo was a pioneer in the cause of "one for all and all for one" with respect to all LGBT people. Gay people can look back with pride at his accomplishments and also experience regret and loss because of his death from AIDS in 1990. As one popular song says, "You can cry me a river, cry me a river. I cried a river over you." "Cry Me a River" by Arthur Hamilton in 1953 was released when Vito Russo was seven years old. Or perhaps just hit the iPod for "Macho Man" by The Village People released in the summer of 1978. Better yet, find this 45 single with "Macho Man" and flip it over to the B-Side for a track called "Just a Gigolo." Those who knew, loved and are familiar with the accomplishments of Russo would love the parallels to the title of this 45's B-side in regards to Vito's love of classic cinema. His acclaimed book on the history of gays and lesbians in motion pictures called "The Celluloid Closet" released in 1981 and revised in 1987 is still the "go-to-reference" book for any LGBT film buff and a definitive encapsulation of our history in the medium.

Now in 2013, in regard to the 2011 documentary film available on DVD called "VITO: The Life of Gay Rights Activist Vito Russo" it seems to be that a minor majority of the younger generation of gay men seem to be hollering for acceptance yet cannot or will not present themselves as "Out" at the same time. Some do this with just as much fervor as Vito fought for the basic human right to exist in society as a gay man of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His gusto and accomplishments for rights... now, are taken for granted by some.

In regard to the history of our LGBT struggle, Vito Russo is brilliantly acknowledged in this film by Jeffrey Schwarz. The documentary is fine-turned to exactly who this man, author, activist and humanitarian, Vito Russo was, what he stood for during his life, and the legacy he left. His life story is tough, loving, humorous, and a proud one and so similar in numerous ways to a generation of people in the fight for gay rights and a generation of people lost to the disease of AIDS.

Vito Russo had all the character traits of a "champion" and a majority of LGBT youth should consider him always as an innovative and intelligent hero. He was truly "out" of the box and "Out" for all of us.

"VITO: The Life of Gay Rights Activist Vito Russo"
First Run Features


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